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2 Posts authored by: Kalli Binkowski

Introduction

 

Students working in groups to learn just learn better.  That is what years of research have shown us.  Managing groups can be difficult, and not just during class.  Canvas has some group functionality that instructors can use to manage group work:

 

 

There are tricks to using groups, group assignments, and group discussions, but today we are focusing on how to change group membership in the middle of a term.

 

Changing Group Membership - Heeding the Warning

 

When you attempt to move a student into a new group after group submissions have already occurred, you get a very special warning:

 

Clone Groups warning

 

Being safe, most instructors will then Create a New Group Set and Submit.  Here are the problems that follow:

 

      
  • The change they were attempting to make initially did not occur in the original group, and it was also not done in the cloned group set.  So NO MEMBERSHIP CHANGES ARE MADE!
  •   
  • The new Cloned group set is not assigned to any assignments or discussions.

 

You have several more things to do to finish changing the membership. Here's what you need to do next.

 

      
  1. In People, click on the Cloned group set tab.
  2.   
  3. Change the membership of the groups, including the one you started with that prompted this whole process.
  4.   
  5. Go to every future assignment and future discussion.
  6.   
  7. Edit the activity.
  8.   
  9. Change the group setting from the original group set to the (Clone) group set and save.

 

Now you have adjusted the groups and all the future group assignments and discussions will be set up for the new groups.

Unless you missed one.  And if you did, once there is a submission, you can't change the group set.  Your only option is to duplicate the assignment, choosing the correct group set and asking students to submit again.

 

Advantages

 

      
  • Keeps an accurate history of group changes.
  •   
  • It is the option prompted by Canvas.
  •   
  • When you import and copy this Canvas site into a blank course site, only one group set is created and all previous group assignments/discussions are set to that "Project Groups" group set

 

Disadvantages

 

      
  • You MUST change the assignment/discussion settings for remaining semester.
  •   
  • If you want to maintain the group assignments to specific group sets when importing, you must create the exact group sets in the blank course site before importing the course content.

 

The Other Way - Ignoring the Warning

 

This way may not work for all instructors because it requires one best practice that must always be done when grading Group Assignments:

 

Once Group grades are entered, edit the assignment and check Assign Grades to Each Student Individually and save.

 

Check the grade individually box

 

There may be reasons you are already doing this.  It allows you to change the scores of group members that did not contribute or were absent.  The key is that this setting LOCKS IN all the grades as individual grades.  That gives you the freedom to change the existing group.

 

      
  1.  Attempt to move a student into a new group.
  2.   
  3. In the warning box, choose Change Existing Group and Submit.

 

That's it, you are done.  Future assignments are still using this group set with the newly modified group.  Past graded assignments have the grades locked to the individuals and are not changed.

 

Unless you weren't done grading a group assignment.  That's the only condition; you must have any group grading done and set to Assign Grades to Each Student Individually.  And this could be a pain if you have many changes to make.

 

Advantages

 

      
  • You do not have to change assignment group settings
  •   
  • The change you were intending to make is made.

 

Disadvantages

 

      
  • You have to be sure to check the “Grade individually” settings of assignments BEFORE you make the group change.
  •   
  • You do not have an accurate running history of group changes.

 

Which will you choose?

 

You can imagine that which you will choose will depend on where you are in the semester and what your normal grading practice is for group grades. Because Canvas prompts users to clone the group, that is the easiest, safest solution but the additional work of making the group changes and then changing the future assignments/discussions must be done.  If you always change group grades to the individually graded option, ignoring the warning might be for you.  

 

Need more information or a different explanation?  Check out Canvas: Changing Group Membership during a Semester.

 

*The CBS-RLT Tech Tip is written by academic technologists at the University of Minnesota, College of Biological Sciences.  It may contain references to Canvas settings and integrations that are specific to that institution. 

 

My favorite Ideas for improving groups in Canvas.  The ones without links are feature Ideas I haven't found yet.

 

 

Updated 11/4/19

It's the start of another school year, so what better time to use a tool that will make communicating with your students so much easier.  Announcements is so much better than just sending an email to your whole class. If you are not using the Canvas inbox, you will have to go through the trouble of getting all your students' emails and making them a group list in your email program.  If you are using Canvas inbox, it's pretty easy to email the whole class, but with the flood of emails students will be getting from instructors and TAs at the start of a semester, it is really easy to lose an email.

 

Wouldn't it better if you had a tool that:

  • automatically notified every student in your class and
  • showed up on the course home page the next time students go to the course site and
  • had all the announcements you ever sent for the course in one place where students could easily find old ones and read new ones?

Bonus points if that tool would allow you to:

  • easily link to things in the course site and
  • create your announcements early and have them post later at a date you choose and
  • automatically shift those posting dates when you start a new semester!

 

This is why you should be using Announcements.  Announcements has all of those features, including all the bonuses!

 

Creating an announcement

When you want to send an announcement to your entire class, choose to add an announcement (instructions).  

  1. You create the announcement.  You can add links and images or videos using the rich text editor and link to assignments, pages, or files directly using the content selector.
  2. Underneath the text box choose to add a delay date. Even if your delay is minutes, having a delay date will allow the date to automatically shift when importing your announcements to a new Canvas site. (Thanks Elson Boles for the clarification!)
  3. You can also choose to attach files and allow commenting and liking. 
  4. When you save, students are notified there is an announcement based on their notification preferences.  By default this is usually this is email but it can also be by text if students make that choice!

 

Setting announcements to show on home page

To ensure your announcement shows at the top of the home page you need to adjust the course settings

  1. Go to Settings > Course Details
  2. Scroll down and click on More options
  3. Check the box by  "Show recent announcements on Course home page" and choose how many announcements you want to show.  One is usually enough, or choose two if you communicate often, but avoid three as it takes up a lot of space on the screen.
  4. You can also choose "Disable comments on Announcements" as the default.

 

Shifting posting dates for a new semester

This process is pretty easy.  When you import your course content from one Canvas site into another, choose to shift the dates (instructions).  Not only will the assignments' dates shift, so will your delay posting dates!  Never again will you have to create that test reminder email!

 

A few warnings:

  • If you allow comments on announcements, it looks a lot like a discussion, but it cannot be found under the Discussions.  The announcement and all its comments stay under the Announcements item in the navigation menu.  This can be confusing to students.
  • Announcements will not be sent out if the course is not published.  Additionally, students that have never been in Canvas and have never clicked the Canvas agreement (like freshmen) will also not get announcements.  For this reason we recommend that any announcements before the semester starts are sent through your institution's system of record. *For the University of Minnesota, that would be MyU.  Go to your course roster and scroll down to find the Notify All button.
  • This doesn't work for sending emails to individual students, sections or groups.  The Canvas Inbox is the tool that will do that for you.
  • When you import your course to a new site, if you select all content, all the announcements will also be copied over.  If you did not set a delay date, your old announcements may be visible to students!
    • Announcements with a post date before the course is published will be visible to students as soon as the course is published. These announcements are not sent to students unless you edit the announcement. After editing and as soon as you save the announcement, it will be emailed to the address students have set up in their notifications, unless you have set up a delay date.(Thanks again Elson Boles.)  
    • Be sure you either delete or set a delay posting date (instructions) on imported announcements before publishing to prevent students from seeing the all the imported announcements immediately.

 

Did I miss any Announcement functions?  How do you use this tool in your courses?

 

*The CBS-RLT Tech Tip is written by academic technologists at the University of Minnesota, College of Biological Sciences.  It may contain references to Canvas settings and integrations that are specific to that institution. 

 

Updated 9/17/19

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